So is the story of Pennsylvania Folk, an Augusta folk band, for all intents and purposes, no longer is.
It’s a memory as beautiful as anything this city has yet to offer me. It is promise, and youth incarnate, as bright and bursting with color as the shapes the sun make on the first day spent with a new lover, when everything is newer than new, when everything is precious — like you’d just been born.
So, you may ask, why write a music column about a band that no longer considers itself a band? Well, for starters, because the musicians themselves will continue to music, even if it is not the music I remember.
Also, because bands are subject to the vicissitudes of life, like everyone else (if not more so), and that’s just how it is sometimes.
And because the song you sing in your youth is a song that stays with you.
Perhaps it was the first time such a moment of epiphany had ever hit them, both core members being so early in their twenties, because a year ago they couldn’t book most venues in Augusta. But here it was, the enormity of time and experience compounded in the face of such frailty as human consciousness, one moment ending and the future split wide open before them, the past suddenly precious – and gone. As memory played across their faces, a realization was made – a year ago that night, they’d played their first gig together.
And now, here they were, their pockets jingling with the difference several hundred days can make – especially, the kind of difference time makes when you’re young.
When Jordan Day was a child growing up in rural Indiana, cutting donuts in the field close to family’s home, his father beside him, rifling through a collage of tape cassettes and picking one to play, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash being the mainstays, the dream (and reality) of becoming a musician had not yet grabbed hold – but these moments were a seed, out of which sprang Pennsylvania Folk, a project that for a single year, from 2015 to early 2016, took up his and Weglarz’s energies and, in many ways, informed their lives.
Out of those circular truck rides, learning to steer and brake, looping around the yard, tire track overlapping over tire track till the beginning and ending were merely indiscernible points in a continual learning process, Day learned the thump and thud of rockabilly and country, the booming vocals of Johnny Cash and the omnipresence of the sky unfolding overtop the flat expanse of the Midwest, each turn revealing a horizon that never left in the first place and hung like a promise in the review mirror, waiting for the steering wheel to inch one way more than the other, for the tires to line up, informed by this small, almost indiscernible movement, until the increments in these minor adjustments began to add up and the sky from which the circle started stared back once again, the sun progressing at each turn till the horizons all folded into a single moment in time.
Let me say now, theirs is a future I am still excited about. Pennsylvania Folk or no Pennsylvania Folk, they still have beautiful music to make – whether it be the basic harmonies they glean from life, be in it in a band or not, or from the joy that music still elicits from them.
They still have music to make.
For me, they are a band that will always resonate.